Huskies host Fresno State on Saturday in their final nonconference game of the season. Starting in 2018, the early-season slate gets more interesting.
Cupcake season is almost over.
The No. 6 Huskies (2-0) will wrap up their nonconference schedule against Fresno State (1-1) on Saturday night at Husky Stadium, ending a doughy-soft stretch of games in which the Huskies have been the betting favored by an average of 33.5 points.
Washington is coming off a 63-7 thumping of Montana in its home opener last weekend. And no disrespect to Fresno State — which didn’t back down in its 41-10 loss at No. 1 Alabama last week — but the Huskies should put the Bulldogs away by halftime on Saturday night.
Everyone wants intriguing matchups and a compelling early-season schedule. That certainly has not been the case for the Huskies the past two seasons. Their nonconference schedule was so weak last year — ranking 127th out of 128 FBS programs — that it nearly cost them a spot in the College Football Playoff.
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On paper, their nonconference schedule doesn’t appear much better this year, either.
That, finally, will change in 2018, when the Huskies open the season against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Huskies have never played in one of those nationally-televised kickoff classics, and the Pac-12-vs.-SEC matchup will no doubt be one of the most talked-about Week 1 games going into next season.
“You just want competitive balance. I think everybody’s into that,” UW coach Chris Petersen said this week. “You just don’t want the lopsided (result) — coaches, fans, everybody wants to have competitive football games.”
Washington has more top-tier opponents on the horizon — notably, a home-and-home series with Michigan in 2020 and 2021, and then another home-and-home with Ohio State in 2024 and 2025.
UW also begins a home-and-home with BYU next season.
It’s typical for such games to be set several years in advance. (Washington announced its 2016-17 games against Rutgers, for example, in March 2014, just a few months after Petersen took over at UW.)
“When it comes to scheduling, any athletic director in the country will tell you this is a very challenging task,” UW athletic director Jennifer Cohen told The Times last December. “To try to predict strength of schedule (years in advance), and schedule…